It’s a story that seems weirdly funny and odd when you first hear about it but gets decidedly more terrifying the more you think about the implications of it. Over the weekend of June 12th in the city of Lahore, police officers allegedly misused their authority to detain 19 staff members of a local chain restaurant. The reason? Because the staff refused to give the officers free food.
While it sounds like something ridiculously absurd, it becomes decidedly less comical when you realized that the staff was held by police for seven hours, and it apparently was not the first time this has happened.
Johnny & Jugnu is a fast-food restaurant with multiple locations in Pakistan. They specialize in wraps and burgers with take-out and delivery service, offering quick food at a reportedly good price if Tripadvisor reviews are to be believed. Maybe it’s the convenience, maybe it’s the quality of the food, but during the night of June 11th, Pakistani police officers came to the restaurant in Lahore asking for free food.
According to reports, the police stated that the restaurant team had failed to take a “request from a very high profile special guest.” Now, we’re not experts in Pakistani law and/or police procedures, but something tells us that’s still not justification for the alleged police action.
The alleged harassment has been ongoing for some time as even days before the police had come to the restaurant demanding free food, as detailed in a Facebook post by the restaurant.
The idea that this is a common practice is terrifying in its own way. Even if no one was physically hurt, the sense of powerlessness in the face of abused authority is traumatizing in its own right. The Punjabi police force has been in the news for their rampant corruption. According to this article from The Hindustan Times, at least 17% of the police force was being probed for corruption charges back in October of 2020. Even Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is aware of the police corruption in the area and stating the need for change and improvement.
Actions have been taken in the wake of this recent incident. One of the police station house officers has been arrested and the officers involved have all been suspended, or at least that’s according to the Punjab Police Official Twitter.
Fast food workers have a hard enough job as is without having police officers detaining them for seven hours at a time just for refusing to serve them free food. It’s a stark reminder that, as Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Apparently that applies towards goals of world conquest, and getting free hamburgers.